Keep up-to-date by going to KXAN’s election page for coverage ahead of election day Nov. 8 and results.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — There are five Austin City Council seats open this November alongside the crowded race for Austin mayor. District 1, 3, 5, 8 and 9 are all up for grabs this election cycle. There are nearly 30 candidates vying for those seats.
One of the most crowded races this November will be District 9, which covers large chunks of downtown Austin including the University of Texas at Austin.
KXAN’s local government reporter, Grace Reader, moderated a District 9 forum Thursday night. The event was hosted by the University Area Partners (UAP), a group of organizations that focus on campus and surrounding parts of Austin — including Safe Horns.
People in the audience asked about affordable housing prior to the forum’s end. KXAN also asked each candidate to talk about solutions to affordable housing. Here’s some of what they said, in order of how the candidates appear on the ballot:
Mitchell did not respond to inquiries from UAP to join Thursday’s debate. You can find Mitchell’s campaign website here.
Zohaib “Zo” Qadri
“I think the first thing that we need to look at is our land development code. It hasn’t been updated since 1984, so looking at some level of rewrite relating to that. But I think in the meantime, expediting the permitting process — which the longer it takes to, you know, with our current permitting process that falls on the homeowner, the cost falls on the homeowner and or the renter — looking at ADUs and more duplexes and fourplex when possible.”
You can find Qadri’s campaign website here.
“The biggest priority is you have to make the process of putting all types of housing on the ground easier, more predictable. And in addition to that, any entity that touches that process has to be more customer service oriented to be able to be a part of making sure that we have more units, more affordable units on the ground. This is a really, really big topic, big subject that we’re getting inundated with with questions. We all have very similar answers. I think the voters in District 9 have a real opportunity to try to figure out who is the best leader to implement all of the ideas that you hear about affordability.”
You can find Smith’s campaign website here.
“In District 9 we play a pretty unique role in the city in that it’s a central part of the city and so I think there are some core areas that we should focus on. I think one is with seniors. We have a lot of people that are trying to age-in-place in this community but they’re being priced out because of increasing property taxes and rents, but they’ve lived here in their homes or in this district for 30-40 years and so I want to develop mechanisms in which these people are able to afford to age-in-place and I think one of the ways we can do that is to relax some of the rules to allow them to more seamlessly able to make ADUs — which are accessory dwelling units — behind their homes. I think these homes could then house students or medics, firefighters, etc.”
You can find Spearman’s campaign website here.
“I’de like to start with the building permits. I’de like to take it all apart. I’de like full transparency and a full audit of where our money is actually going. It shouldn’t be this expensive to live here and not be able to pay city employees that’s ridiculous.”
You can find Olson’s Twitter page here.
“There’s a number of things we can do to try to take a bite out of the costs right now. I think whether you’re a renter or a home owner what I’m hearing at the doors every day is that the current situations is not working. I would divide it into three sort of attacks. The land development code really is subsidizing and sort of incentivizing the most expensive type of housing and sprawl and so I think that there are opportunities to create the incentives within that to build smaller, more affordable housing both as infill and along our corridors. Secondarily, our permitting process is just a mess and adds what I have estimated up to 20% cost per unit. So just cleaning up that bureaucracy is a huge opportunity. And then finally I think we have an opportunity to partner much more effectively with entities like UT, like Travis County, like AISD, and large employers to build both for students, faculty, staff, employees housing.”
You can find Leffler’s campaign website here.
“I would like to see more land trusts available. I would also like to see the AISD use some of their schools that have been permanently closed to house teachers. I’m a teacher myself and so I would like to see that be utilized for housing.”
You can find Guerrero’s campaign website here.
“There’s a number of things, I mean simply put though we need to make sure that we build enough housing to meet the demand there is near opportunities such as jobs and school and services. We also need to continue to build up the number of income restricted units, you know, that are available to just people of particular incomes. And then of course we have to continue to subsidize housing for the lowest income earners especially to ensure that we house the unhoused.”
You can find Wald’s campaign website here.
You can find your Travis County sample ballot here.